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Overview of the presidential election process

The process to elect a president takes almost two years. Learn the steps that result in the election of a U.S. president.

An election for president of the United States happens every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The next presidential election will be November 5, 2024.

What is the typical presidential election cycle?

The presidential election process follows a typical cycle:

Time of the year Event
Spring of the year before an election Candidates announce their intentions to run.
Summer of the year before an election through spring of the election year Primary and caucus debates take place.
January to June of election year States and parties hold primaries and caucuses. Find out more about primaries and caucuses.
July to early September Parties hold nominating conventions to choose their candidates. Read more about the conventions.
September and October

Candidates participate in presidential debates.

Early November Election Day is the first Tuesday after the first Monday. Find out about the presidential general election.
December Electors cast their votes in the Electoral College. Learn how the Electoral College works.
Early January of the next calendar year Congress counts the electoral votes.
January 20 Inauguration Day

For an in-depth look at the federal election process in the U.S., read USA In Brief: ELECTIONS.

LAST UPDATED: April 12, 2023


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